The short answer is simple: we need to build a lot more housing of all kinds. We have too many people chasing too few units. The devil, however, is in the details; and like most challenges, there is no simple path or panacea to move us out of the shortage conditions we now face. Indeed, there are many who disagree with the entire premise of "building more." Such diametrically opposed views must be somehow reconciled; there will have to be some level of compromise. Let me break it down as I see it:

Housing is a double-edged sword. If you are a homeowner, you are quite happy with a high demand, low supply market because it drives value up and builds equity in your home. Your house is not only your abode, but an investment. Indeed, some of the resulting conditions of a high demand, low supply market are objectively not a bad thing for the economy, either, as they increase homeowners’ economic options—and we want people to have economic options. These conditions also afford our communities with significant levels of property tax revenue, which we in turn use to keep our communities livable, desirable and stable.

On the other hand, if a young person or couple is/are looking to break into the housing market, there are significant barriers to any hardworking family or individual to achieve that goal. Such barriers act as an economic impediment to this segment of the population. Due to the constricted supply of housing, prices are too high in many cases to have any realistic chance of obtaining a home, which in turn puts a strain on the rental market—and rentals are also in short supply. The result is that these young people are quite literally stuck if they wish to stay in this community, unable to buy or rent. How can we strike a balance, whereby young people can have a reasonable chance of entering the housing market while we simultaneously preserve value for present homeowners?

There are no panaceas. Rent control, or housing subsidies for those with lower incomes, do nothing to solve the incongruity of supply and demand in this market—they in fact exacerbate the shortage. Such proposed solutions simply avail more opportunities or more means allowing people to seek out the very same amount of housing. It simply replaces price rationing with other, more inefficient, forms of rationing.

High prices result from low inventory combined with high desirability to live in the area. What we thus need to do is take a look at zoning laws to allow for more single family, condominium and apartment construction, and then economically incentivize more building of such residences. The enhanced supply will drive housing prices down—not instantaneously, but over time....

The larger question is "where can we build new housing and apartment units"? This is not easily solved in our communities which are largely built out. Some residential projects are in the works within our district, but they face challenges by present residents and property owners who question what the influx of new residents will do to neighborhood atmosphere, traffic congestion and general quality of life.

Those who are the poorest in our society are facing a whole different issue. It is the most basic need for shelter no matter where they are. In such cases, it is incumbent upon government to find and/or create solutions. Here we need to continue what has been happening in places as disparate as Utah and downtown Los Angeles—that is to build low-cost, yet dignified, housing for the indigent and poor. We must additionally offer services to help with counseling for abuse, addiction, depression, etc…, and work with these people to get them off the streets and into society again, one step at a time. Finding funding and finding locations for such housing are perhaps the most vexing challenges.

I support the building of, or conversion of, certain existing structures to affordable and heavily subsidized (when necessary) housing, coupled with massive investments in counseling and programs for abuse, addiction, depression and the like along with job programs to help get these people back on their feet.  We must deal with the root causes by offering a helping hand.


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